Iraqi veteran suffers from traumatic brain injury, PTSD

Colfax VFW rallies to send wounded vet to D.C.
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record editor
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David Green?s plans have changed, but the wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran still plans to be in Washington, D.C. for Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and the Rolling Thunder Parade. Instead of making the 6,000-mile round journey as a passenger on Joe Hagerty?s motorcycle, alongside Tom Mason ? who?s making the bike ride for the second year in a row ? he?ll fly courtesy of Hagerty and Mason. The three men, all of Colfax, are members of Colfax Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2003, and Green is Post Commander. Green, 31, was stationed at Ft. Stewart, Ga. with the 3-15 Infantry Battalion, which was the first unit into Iraq on March 20, 2003, Green said. ?We got ambushed on April 7, 2003 going into Baghad. I was doing security on a refilling supply line for ammos and gas and food and water,? traveling aboard Bradley tanks. ?There was a power line that was across the road. I guess they cut it down.? When the troops stopped to remove the downed power line, they started taking fire. Out of 64, two men died and multiple people, including Green, were injured. Green suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, as the result of a concussion received from the rocket propelled grenade?s shrapnel and subsequently was awarded the Purple Heart. He also suffers from PTSD, post-traumatic shock syndrome. When he returned to the U.S. with his unit on August 2004, Green came home with his injuries. ?My short term memory is not really there,? Green said. And six months ago, he started having seizures, which they believe it related to the TBI. Green also lost his driver?s license, which is why he had planned to ride with Hagerty. But last week, just days before they were to join other veterans leaving Auburn for the capital on May 16, he suffered another seizure and was unable to make the long trip. ?Joe and Tom went and chipped in some money for me to fly to Washington, D.C.,? Green said. Green is a 1999 Placer High School graduate. He moved from Auburn to Colfax two years ago when he and his fianc, Trista Dreher, bought a house here. ?I?d be lost without her,? Green said, ?She provides a lot of support.? Once a week for two years, Green has traveled to McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento for brain exercise therapy. ?The service is great,? he said. ?I?ve had good luck with the VA.? While he can?t work and tries to stay busy, Green said he is trying to get everything back on track. What?s helping him get there is the socializing he gets at the VFW. ?They?ve been great through this ? That?s actually the best therapy I?ve had,? Green said. ?My attitude is getting better ? hanging around with the guys helps a lot.? Another VFW member, Tom Passanisi, has taken on the extra duty of driving Green to his appointments. It?s something he does, Passanisi said, because Green is ?a comrade in the VFW ? and a personal friend. He?d do the same for me.? Passanisi said he met Green 2 1/2 years ago when he moved to the area. ?David?s a good man ? that sums it all up,? he said. Post 2003 member Bob Candler said Green is ?a great commander. We?re looking forward to finding out more about his trip and how it went.? On Tuesday, Green still planned to meet up with Mason and Hagerty, who took part in the National Veterans Awareness Ride across America, leaving here May 16 and arriving in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Hagerty said Tuesday from Portage, Ind. that the riders had been stopping at veterans? homes, medical facilities and cemeteries and town squares that have war memorial along the way and participated in memorial ceremonies across the country. ?This morning we stopped at a Middle East war memorial in Illinois,? built to honor soldiers who perished in those conflicts and the current one, Hagerty said. ?For me that was very personal. I have a few friends whose names are on the memorial.? Hagerty also found it comforting that in communities they?ve visited, the reception has been extremely warm, and local law enforcement and state patrols greeted them and provided escort.